Our master art teachers coach and support our young artists by facilitating experiences that help them to develop their cultural competencies, identities of self, arts mastery, and commitment to making the world a better place.
Nicole (NiQueen) Jones is an Oakland based multidisciplinary artist and arts educator who intersects the concepts of social justice, youth empowerment, community unification and mindfulness. She has been a working artist since 1997, when began performing as a poet and well respected B-Girl in Los Angeles’s Leimert Park. Her frequent performances in the LA hip hop scene allowed her to participate in fashion shows with Karl Kani and as a dancer open up for iconic artist’s Run DMC and Aerosmith at the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd. Her music & poetry was featured in several reggae mixed tapes through the 2000’s. NiQueen moved to Oakland in 2007 and planted deep roots with her family. She continued to enjoy writing poetry and reignited her childhood adoration of visual art and built community. She taught Youth and collaborated in Youth Art Shows with Oakland Terminal Art Gallery for years, and began teaching art and mindfulness with Oakland Freedom School. In 2019, NiQueen participated in the creation of a mobile “Living” Black History Museum with Spearitwurx in 2019, completed an Artist Fellowship in Design & Tech with AfroUrban Society in 2020. She created a daytime arts homeschool program for 13 years, and in 2021 became designated an official “Black Culture Keeper” and mentor by the Black Cultural Zone in Oakland, CA. She teaches visual art and Hip Hop History.
Asatu is a seasoned performer, choreographer, founding member, and administrator of Emesè: Messengers of the African Diaspora Cultural Society a collective of artists founded in 1998 with a mission to promote and present the rich cultural traditions of the African Diaspora. Her background in dance incorporates over 25 years of various genres including Ballet, Tap, West African, Congolese, Brazilian, and Cuban. She has had the honor of studying with several master artists in the Bay Area and abroad in particular her mentors Mestre Carlos Aceituno founder of Fogo Na Roupa and Regina Califa Calloway, Jorge Alabe, Blanche Brown, Titos Sompa, Malonga Casquelourd, Zak, and Naomi Diouf, Jose Francisco Barroso, Juan De Dios Ramos, Linda Faye Johnson, Isaura Oliveira, and others. Asatu currently teaches Afro Cuban and Afro Brazilian dance in Oakland at the historical Malonga Casquelourde Center for the Performing Arts and The People’s Conservatory.
Leon Jones (he/they)
With his work, Leon Jones Jr. is committed to creating space for other BlPOC/LGBTQIA+ artists on stage and screen. He began his professional career playing Macduff's Child in Berkeley Rep's production of Macbeth starring Frances McDormand and Conleth Hill. He went on to attend Oakland School for the Arts, specializing in Acting & Musical theatre. Recent acting credits include Jaden in The Great Khan at Sf Playhouse, Young Man in Begin the Beguine at Oakland Theatre Project, Marcellus in Music Man at Throckmorton Theatre, and Damascus/Demeter in ...And Jesus Moonwalks Mississippi, Watchmen's Friend in The Oresteia, Player King in Hamlet, and Curly in Rising with Oakland School for the Arts. Besides acting, Leon is an emerging producer, director, and writer, recently winning an award from Golden Globe Winner, Regina Taylor for his short film, Through My Mind and currently serves as Founding Executive Director for Youth Uproar Theatre Company and the Education Director of Marin Shakespeare Company.
Tierra Allen contributes to movements for collective liberation as a theater maker, teaching artist, activist, and more. She’s won an Isadora Duncan "Izzie" Dance Award, earned award nominations from Theatre Bay Area, and performed with the Black Choreographers Festival, Dance Brigade’s D.I.R.T. (Dance in Revolt(ing) Times) Festival, Campo Santo, BAMBDFEST, Magic Theatre, 3Girls Theatre, Bay Area Childrens Theater, and others. She’s directed for Playwrights Foundation and PlayGround and choreographed for the National Queer Arts Festival, Spectrum Queer Media, and TheatreFIRST, where she’s a Company Member. Devised works with her collective The Bonfire Makers include PLACE to LAND (an Oakland love story), which explored cycles of displacement and pathways toward a just Oakland, and a performance-based toolkit to organize for housing justice and Proposition 10. She recently wrote, directed, and performed in the speculative abolitionist short film THE REMEMBERING TIME, commissioned for Shotgun Players’ 30/30 Vision Project. She’s co-created spaces braiding performance, activism, healing, and critical consciousness-raising at theaters, community-based organizations, schools, and parks, behind prison walls and in the streets. She’s an advisor with We Rise Production and holds a B.A. magna cum laude in Theater & Dance with concentrations in Black Studies & English from Amherst College.
Ezra Myles Bristow
Born and raised in Newark, NJ, Ezra Myles Bristow is a quintessential creative. As a self-taught choreographer, published illustrator, and internationally recognized spoken word artist, Ezra has been creating his entire life, deciding at age 10 that he would grow up to be an artist. He completed his first comic book at 14, started his high school’s first dance team at 16, and produced his first event by 18. He studied Art History at Johns Hopkins University and Cartooning at the School of Visual Arts, all before receiving a high school diploma. Ezra is a Choreographer, Illustrator, Poet, Event Producer, and Arts Educator with over a decade of experience performing across the country and internationally. He is currently utilizing his skills as a creative to support local arts organizations in the Bay Area focused on empowering youth and providing community wellness through the arts. He is a Production and Programs Coordinator at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, one of the principal dancers and Co-producers for SambaFunk! Carnaval Explosion, and founder of MylesBeyond Entertainment, a production company that provides event, entertainment, and marketing services.
Chiedu Ufoegbune is an Artist/Graphic Designer from Oakland, California. A first-generation American whose family comes from Nigeria. He graduated from Cal State East Bay with a Master's degree in Graphic Design. He also has done work as a Best Boy Grip & Camera Assistant and has helped make short films and music videos with United Roots Media in Oakland and Black Film Club in San Francisco. He has also been involved with local organizations such as Urban Peace Movement and Oakland Peace Center. His hobbies include drawing and watching movies.
Amani Jade is a multi-faceted creator born in San Francisco, CA and one half of The Oakland Mind. Though her first creative love was dance, she is known for writing poetry, original rap music, and exploring anything creative available to her. She blends her passion for art with her life work, supporting young people in and outside the school system in various artistic, political, and social-emotional capacities. She’s inspired by first time freestylers, cyphers of celebration & non-competition, and the power of healing through creative expression. You may know her as the co-creator and host of Sistar Cypher, from her debut project RJ to AJ, or the #30DayBayChallenge on YouTube.
Safahri Ra Hendrix
Safahri Ra Hendrix is a hip hop educator, emcee, after school program director, Katrina survivor, and full time Arts Academy Instructor, who over the past 15 years has built a career by teaching, workshops with teachers, taking over schools, innovating after school programs, aiding principals, creating summer camps, presenting in other states, panels, opening up new schools, performing & touring internationally in schools, coaching young artists, and eventually starting his own Hip Hop company which seemed like the natural next step to take… So now after countless albums, stages, tours, films and presentations, Safahri is launching his life love and dream company Pangea to partner with Arts Academy back at home base in the Bay Area with the support of all his family and friends!
Shani is a spirit chasin’, forest wanderin’, Black womxn who spends a lot time dreaming up new
worlds through painting, the written word, and collage making as a way to heal and transform
intergenerational patterns of harm, neglect, self-negation, and trauma. Shani has 7 years of
experience providing communications support to racial and social justice organizations. After quitting a particularly toxic racial justice org, Shani's artmaking practice was born. Shani’s work is greatly informed by the desire to learn and practice rituals that center the values of African earth centered spiritual traditions. Shani's work seeks to unearth what has been buried as a result of assimilation and honor, celebrate, and affirm the ancestral practices that help folks of the African Diaspora to remain grounded and connected to who we are. I want us to have room that is expansive and creative where we can dream, envision, and manifest the kind of rhythms and love exchanges that nurture and feed us plentiful. You can keep up with Shani on IG: @ani_kweens
Arkadiusz Lesniak aka Bboy erock is a Youth Worker and Activity Specialist based in New York City. He holds a Bachelor's Degree majoring in Children and Youth Studies and minoring in Women’s and Gender Studies from Brooklyn College City University of New York and has been in the field of youth development since 2006. His notable dance achievements include placing 1st at NYC DYCD Nike Step It Up Dance Competition / Social Campaign as a coach, winning NYC Bboy Master solo title, and winning Kings Of New York Crew Competition. Arkadiusz is passionate about hip hop, breaking, gaming, and social justice. He is currently facilitating Video Gaming & Game Design activities remotely with Middle Schoolers in New York and Oakland.
Andrea Lamadora has 19 professional years of Fashion Design, Styling, and Theater/Costume design. Born and raised in San Francisco and Oakland, Ms. Lamadora is a highly visible ambassador of fashion in the culturally diverse Bay Area. Known for crafting dramatic, statement-making pieces using a rich palette of bold, bright colors, every look from her collection has a streak of global influence. She has traveled to 32 countries in which she immersed herself into learning their individual cultures, textile history, lifestyle, and created an individual interpretation of mixed cultures, history into designs of self-expression of urban ethnic growth and lifestyles. Andrea's owned 3 successful clothing Boutiques in San Francisco, including House of Mamasan, which she founded with her eldest sister Kila Lamadora in 2001. In 2017, she went onto teaching and creating the first ever Fashion Design and Costuming High School program in the country and the first middle school Fashion Arts Program in the country with Roses in Concrete Community School. Andrea is Currently teaching Fashion Design and Illustration at Oakland School for the Arts 'Step it Up' program and summer classes at Head-Royce School.
Nicole Gervacio is an interdisciplinary artist based in Oakland, California - occupied Huichin. She received her BFA from California College of the Arts in 2011 and has collaborated with organizations including Her Resilience, People of Coloring, and Urban x Indigenous. In 2016, she became involved in the grassroots freedom school Liberation Spring and co-founded the collaborative cultural production collective We Rise, both continue to deepen and support her work as an artist and activist. Nicole is open to all methods and mediums available to express a concept, from visual work to movement, video to written word. She is inspired by the body, memory, destruction and deterioration, and permanence versus impermanence. As an educator, Nicole sees her position in the classroom as that of a collaborator. She offers guidance, support, as well as space for young artists as they explore mediums for self expression and self discovery.
Innovative arts-educator and youth advocate with over thirteen years of experience using the arts to foster expressions of intelligent, articulate, mindful visionaries.
Rozz Nash is a musician, a vocalist/composer, a choreographer, a theater director, and has been a teaching artist in New York City and the SF Bay Area public and private schools for over 25 years. She served as the Founding Director of Performing and Visual Arts at Roses in Concrete Community School for four years. Previously she was the Artistic Director and creator of the Brooklyn based Caras Youth Contemporary Dance Ensemble--a youth centered social justice and contemporary dance company, the Brooklyn Performing Arts Institute--a year round arts academy for youth ages 13-21, and Co-founder (with Imani Uzuri and Tomasia Kastner) of WERISE--a women’s artist collective that supported entrepreneurship and arts-based business start-ups. She has directed and choreographed musicals and dance performances for Columbia University's Varsity Show, Marymount High School Theatre and Summer drama camp, El Puente Leadership Program, Way Off Broadway Acting School, and The Possibility Project--a national youth development organization. Rozz has facilitated music, theatre and dance residencies for arts organizations such as Creative Music Programs and Learning through an Expanded Arts Program in over 50 schools in NYC for over 20 years. She is also a partner and director of Creative Arts and Music Programs, one of Brooklyn's first multidisciplinary arts camps currently in its 11 year stint. She is an internationally touring artist having performed with various music groups including Groove Collective, Slavic Soul Party, Living Colour, and DJ Towatei as well as her own projects COULON, Red Lotus, and her children's music project The Rozz & Val Show. She is currently working on a new solo project. Rozz is also a co-founder and former Board Chair of Art & Abolition, a Kenyan based organization that gives arts education and life support to young girls that have been sexually abused and exploited due to poverty.
Born on the beautiful island of Oahu, Branch was influenced by the cultures of all the Polynesian islands. Since he could remember, he was involved in some sort of music, visual or movement art form. While in La’ie Elementary, he participated in Polynesian dance competitions where the groups he danced for placed amongst the top. During Kahuku Intermediate, he traveled to the continental US to win gold medals in each category of his division at AAU Karate national competitions. Continuing onto Kahuku High, he lettered in the marching band, judo where he also learned jiujitsu, ran track and played soccer. His class of 1995 won majority of their school songfests and statewide Polynesian dance competitions. Most notably he was amongst a team of high school football champions, all 4 years, winning himself an athletic scholarship to University of Hawaii. During his summers there, he supported himself by performing Polynesian dances at the Princess Kaiulani Hotel in Waikiki. Needless to say, competing or performing at high levels were commonplace for this island boy. His Capoeira journey was sparked by “Only the Strong,” a movie showcasing the Martial Art helping struggling high school students. Fascinated, his Capoeira study commenced in 2003 at San Francisco State’s dance department under Mestre Preguica of Omulu Capoeira. While majoring in Kinesiology, he became hooked before the semester concluded. Working as a personal trainer, he continued private instruction with his college professor. Within 8 months of beginning, a “Batizado” (formal graduation) was held where he received his “cordao,” a cord instead of belts marking the experience level as in other martial arts. In 2018, his love of movement took this experience and knowledge of Capoeira to Roses in Concrete Community School in Oakland, CA. Blessed by the opportunities provided by The People’s Conservatory, he has been fortunate to work with hundreds of youth and share Capoeira’s culture through it’s history, music through it’s instruments, language through it’s songs and his favorite, it’s movements through play. He has now been joyfully playing and sharing Capoeira for 17 years. You can be sure to find him playing in one of the many, many Capoeira academies in the Bay Area if he’s not already playing the game with kids.
Marcus J Salinas
Marcus J Salinas, also known as Omega, was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and has been labeled a pioneer in the Chicago Hip Hop / Breaking scene. Having over 25 years of experience and 15+ years of teaching Bboy/Bgirl movement, he is recognized by an extensive background of dance competition titles and performances. Omega continues to stay active and relevant to the community as an influential competitor and mentor. Marcus has judged, showcased, and taught workshops at some of the most prestigious competitions nationwide. Spreading his knowledge of the culture through his movement techniques promotes conditioning of the body and mind for abstract and acrobatic movement for youths and adults. Dynamics of Breaking - Bboy/Bgirl Movement Instructor - firstname.lastname@example.org
Raliegh J. Neal II
Raliegh J. Neal II has 50 YEARS of music exposure, beginning at the age of 4 with his father teaching him the Ukelele. Raliegh attended University of Virginia and University of Miami Music School which then launched a career of over 3 decades of playing the piano and sharing the stage of musical legends like Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Robert Daultry, Nile Rogers, John Mayer, Guru, Be Be Winans and countless others. In 2006 Raliegh joined Michael Franti & Spearhead for a 9 year run touring worldwide in Brazil, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Canada, and throughout the continental U.S. As a Composer, Raliegh has an eclectic catalog of pieces registered with ASCAP that are played around the world. Some of his creative efforts
specialize in “youth empowerment” and have appeared on Nickelodeon and ABC’s Saturday morning children’s programs. Raliegh also has over12 years experience working with inter-city youth in the field of Youth Development through the Arts. Hired as the Music Director for The CityKids Foundation, Raliegh had the opportunity to cultivate the musical and performance talent of hundreds of youth through theme based performances touching on themes about teen pregnancy, racism, culture and relationships. At present Raliegh is scoring for independent films, providing session work, and enjoying performing with local Bay Area music talent, as well as his Steely Dan Cover group, “The Dans of Steel.”
Karma Smart’s passion for dance began in 1996, particularly, dances of the African Diaspora. Soon after beginning the study of West African dance she began to perform at public events. While living in Hawai’i she studied and performed West African, Afro-Brazilian, Congolese, jazz, Haitian and hip-hop dance styles. In Hawai’i she helped form the dance company of Sankofa based on the Big Island with whom she performed at schools, museums, and events on Maui and Oahu and the Big Island while completing a degree in Cultural Anthropology in 2000. In 2002, in order to expand her learning opportunities as a dancer and to attend graduate school, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. A few months after arriving she was invited to join the long standing Congolese dance company, Fua Dia Congo of which she was a member for three years. After graduating from the California Institute of Integral Studies she was presented with the opportunity to teach West African and Congolese dance while in an internship in Brazil. Currently, and for the last ten years she has consistently focused on studying Afro-Brazilian dance. In addition, in April of 2013 she was asked to collaborate in forming a new Congolese dance company by the young visionary choreographer, Vivien Bassoumina. It is Karma’s life passion to share her experience of personal healing and liberation through music and dance. Karma currently teaches adults, teens and children of all ages dance at various community organizations, dance studios, wellness centers, fitness centers and schools. More specifically she teaches at BrasArte, also known as the World Dance Center in Berkeley. And has recently performed as a company member with Omi Tutu Dance Collective as well as Damasceno Dance Collective and, as a guest artist with Maracatu Pacifico for the annual Cuba Caribe Festival in March of 2017. Karma also enjoys performing in the SF Carnaval Parade and other local celebrations annually. In addition, for the last 5 years she has taught as a guest dance teacher at St. Mary’s College High School as well as taught a variety of movement arts from gymnastics, circus arts, and Kung fu, at various schools and camps. Teaching children movement arts is her passion and inspires her daily.
Cava Menzies is a multidisciplinary musician, visual artist, and educator who resides in Oakland, Ca. She holds a BA from the Berklee College of Music and a MM from the University of Miami. Cava is a founding music faculty member at the Oakland School for the Arts and served as the Artistic Director of the school from 2015 - 2018. She is a 2014 National Artist Teaching Fellow. She has been a guest faculty member for Berklee College of Music’s weeklong music intensives in LA and Puerto Rico. She served on the board of the SF Chapter for the Recording Academy and was a quarterfinalist for the 2018 Grammy Music Educator Awards. Cava is the founder of the brand, COLORQUEEN, a multidisciplinary platform that highlights her integrated visual art, music, and travel work.
Transplanted to San Francisco Bay Area from Shanghai, China and originally hailing from Virginia Beach, Ben Misterka’s story is anything but ordinary. Spending nearly 6 years based in Shanghai, he is well known as a top call session and touring guitarist, regularly performing at arenas, major festivals, and intimate clubs alike, with leading pop artists, internationally renowned touring acts, and his original project “Collectivity”. Relocating to the Bay Area in 2017, he is quickly turning heads and making an impact across California and beyond. A graduate of VCU jazz department, Misterka quickly began performing in some of the top RnB, Hip Hop, Gospel, Funk and Jazz groups around Richmond, VA. Developing a fluency in those languages, he grew to be a well versed and versatile in demand guitarist. He soon found the offer to move to China, working with several schools to develop the music programs, and perform full time. Immersed in this new culture, he became fluent in Mandarin found himself performing at arenas, large festivals, and clubs such as Blue Note, all over the country, as well as holding a residency as Musical Director for one of the best soul music venues in Asia, “Shake.” In 2019 Misterka released an album of original music, “Off the Grid” with his band Collectivity, which had the opportunity to tour in Asia, the US and Europe.As an artist with incredible versatility, unique groove and pocket, and a compelling performer, Misterka has worked with; Lyrics Born, Tommy Igoe, Fred Yonnet, The Voice of China, Nikki Glaspe, Morris Hayes, Tia Ray, Glen David Andrews, Tan Wei Wei(谭维维), Leah Dou (窦靖童), Yu Quan (羽 泉) and many others. He studied with Wayne Krantz, Fred Hersch, and Doug Richards.
Marina Elana has performed with the most important flamenco companies in the United States over the past twelve years including Caminos Flamencos, Maria Benitez’s Teatro Flamenco in New Mexico and Noche Flamenca in New York City. Marina has performed with Noche Flamenca for the past eight years and has toured extensively with the company both nationally and internationally. In one of the most recent performances, Brian Seibert from The New York Times reviewed her as “a dancer of distinction.” Marina was chosen to perform and present her choreographies at the New York International Fringe Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out Festival, the Queensboro Dance Festival and Stanford University’s NExT Performance Series. Last year in San Francisco, she co-created her first major production, Tattooed, which Rene Renouf reviewed as "one of the most effective flamenco performances I have ever seen." Marina graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Film and Media Studies specializing in “Avant-Garde Aesthetics and Performance.”